Safe - An operational status of a track in a multitrack tape
recorder where that track will not go into record when the record button is pushed for the
Safe/Ready Selector - A two or more position
switch, which is usually included on a tape machine and which, determines if each track
will be able to go into record.
Sample - 1) In digital recording, to measure the level of a
waveform at a given instant. 2) To record a short segment of audio for the purpose of
playback later. 3) The short recording (made per definition 2).
Sample and Hold - In digital recording, to measure
the level of a waveform at a given instant and then convert it to a voltage at that level
which will be held until another sample is taken.
Sample Dump - The copying of a digitally recorded
sample without converting it to analog between different storage units or sound modules
thru a MIDI transmission.
Sample Playback - The reproduction (in analog
signal form) of a recorded sample controlled as to pitch and sustain (by a MIDI signal).
Sample Rate - In digital recording, the number of
times per second that samples are taken.
Sample Rate Conversion - The conversion of
digital audio at one sample rate to digital audio at a different sample rate without first
converting the signal to analog.
Sampler - A device that records and plays samples, often
with features to edit and store the samples.
Sampling Frequency - Same as Sample Rate (the
number samples taken per second).
Sampling Synchronization Signal -
Synchronization pulses that are generated by a digital audio tape recorder, are recorded
onto the tape and then used as a clock signal to time the sampling of the sampling
Saturation - The point at which the tape is fully
magnetized and will accept no more magnetization.
Save - To put onto a permanent storage device (such as a
floppy disc) the digital data in the RAM.
Sawtooth Waveform - A waveform that jumps from a
zero value to a peak value and then gradually diminishes to a zero value for each
Schematic Diagram (Schematic) - A
diagram that shows the signal paths and electronic components of a device.
Scratch - 1) A descriptive term meaning
"temporary". 2) A scratch vocal is a vocal done during a basic recording session
to help the musicians play their parts. At a later date the final vocal track is
overdubbed. 3) The action of a musician or disc jockey quickly moving a record back and
forth with a phono cartridge reproducing the stylus motion to create a rhythm pattern of
Scrub - The action or function of shuttling (moving the
sound track) usually of digital audio, either forward or backward when a control is moved
off a center point either left or right.
Sealed Case - The enclosure of a microphone diaphragm
so that the back cannot receive sound pressure changes.
Second - Short for Second Engineer (Assistant Recording
Engineer) and used to describe the action done by a second engineer.
Second Engineer - An assistant recording engineer.
Select - 1) A switch which controls where an input receives
its signal from. 2) The action of choosing where an input receives its signal from.
Semi-Pro - A class of recording equipment where
professional or near-professional performance can be obtained but the equipment is not
built to withstand the amount of continuous use that professional equipment would be
expected to receive and sometimes is missing features needed in a professional
Semiconductor - 1) A material which conducts more
than an insulator but less than a conductor. 2) Any device, such as a transistor, which is
mainly made from semiconductor material.
Send - A control and buss to feed signals from the console
channels to some outboard device such as a reverberation effects unit.
Send Level - A control determining the signal level
sent to a send buss (see preceding entry).
Sensitivity - In microphones, the output level
produced by a standard amount of sound pressure level.
Separation - A term used to describe the pick up of a
desired signal compared to the pick up of an undesired signal.
Sequence - 1) A playing of musical events (such as
pitches, sounding of samples, and rests) automatically by some device, in a step by step
order. 2) The action of programming a computer to play musical events, automatically, in a
Sequencer - A computer which can be programmed to play a
stepped order of musical events (playing of pitches, sounding of samples, and rests).
Serial Data - Digital data where all of the bits are
transmitted one after another over a single wire/connection.
Serial Interface - A plug and cable for a
computer that sends/receives data one bit after another.
Serial Port - A jack that sends out or receives
digital data one bit after another, through a single pin.
Series Connection - Connecting devices
(especially circuit elements) so that the electrical signal flows from one thing to the
next, to the next, so forth.
Servo-Controlled - In motors, using a control
circuit where the actual speed of a motor is sensed and compared to a reference (like a
pulse timing signal).
Set Up - 1) To place microphones, instruments and the
controls on recorders/consoles, etc. for recording. 2) The way in which the microphones,
instruments and the controls on recorders/consoles, etc. are positioned for recording.
Shelf - A frequency response of an equalization circuit
where the boost or cut of frequencies forms a shelf on a frequency response graph.A
High-Frequency Shelf control will affect signal levels at the set frequency and all
frequencies higher than it; a Low-Frequency Shelf control will affect signal levels at the
set frequency and all frequencies lower than it.
Shelf Filter - A name for the circuit in an equalizer
used to obtain the shelf.
Shield - 1) The outer conductive wrapping around an inner
wire or inner wires in a cable. 2)To protect the inner wire or inner wires in a cable from
pick up of energy given off by such things as florescent lights.
Further Information - Definition 1: Shields can take various forms. One form for
microphone cables is a shield with thin wires braided around the inner
conductors. The shield for cable used to inter-connect equipment takes the form
of a foil-tube wrapping around the inner conductors (a wire is in contact with
the foil so connections can be made to the shield). Inexpensive cables use a
spiral of thin wires around the inner conductor. Shields work because they are
connected to ground. Stray fields (as put off by florescent fixtures) will tend
to induce current into the shield rather than the inner conductor. Since ground
is 0 volts, the current travels down the shield to the ground.
Shielded Cable - Cable that has a shield around an
inner conductor or inner conductors.
Shock Mount - An elastic mount for the microphone that
reduces movement of the microphone when the stand moves (because of floor vibrations from
Short (Short Circuit) - A direct connection
between two points in a circuit that (usually) should not be connected.
Short Delay - Delay times under 20 milliseconds.
Shortest Digital Path - The routing of the
digital audio signal so that there is a minimum amount of D/A conversion, A/D conversion
or Sample Rate conversion.
Shortest Path - A technique in recording that routes
the signal through the least amount of active (amplified) devices during recording.
Shotgun Microphone - A microphone with a long
line filter (a tube that acoustically cancels sound arriving from the side) to make the
microphone pick up much better in one direction than in any other direction.
Shuttle - 1) A technique of stopping the fast winding
(either fast-forward or rewind) of tape in older tape machines where the engineer put the
tape machine in the opposite fast mode and pressed stop after the machine just started to
reverse direction. 2) Moving the reels by hand so that the tape moves past the desired
point first in one direction, then in another direction, back and forth. 3) A control,
which moves the sound track either forward or backward when the control is moved off a
center point either, left or right.
Sibilance - Energy from a voice centered around 7 kHz
caused by pronouncing "s", "sh" or "ch" sounds.
Sidechain - The control circuit of a dynamics processing
Signal - 1) In audio, an alternating current (or voltage)
matching the waveform of, or being originally obtained from a sound pressure wave. 2) Also
in audio, an alternating current (or voltage) between 20 Hz and 20,000 Hz. 3) A digital
audio bit stream.
Signal Flow - The path that a signal moves through an
audio system such as a console.
Signal Generator - Same as Audio Oscillator (a
device which puts out test tones at various frequencies for testing purposes).
Signal Path - The way in which current does or may
travel in a circuit or through a device.
Signal Processing - Changing the sound of the
instrument or other sound source with equalizers, limiters, compressors and other devices
thereby "processing" them to be recorded onto a master.
Signal-to-Error Ratio - The level difference
between the signal and the noise and distortion caused by converting analog audio signals
into digital audio and then back into analog.
Signal-to-Noise Ratio - The amount of dB
lower the noise is as compared to the signal.
Sine Wave - The waveform that would be obtained from a
vibrating source that was vibrating at just one frequency (making a pure tone).
Single-D - A term that is short for Single Port Distance,
and describing a microphone where there is one distance between the port and the
Slap Echo - One distinct repeat added to one or more
instrument sounds in the mix which creates a very live sound similar to what you would
hear in an arena.
Slate - 1) The voice recorded onto the beginning of a master
tape to identify the tune and take, or the action of making it. 2) The circuit or control
which allows you to slate masters.
Slave - The transport, which adjusts speed to be in time
with the master transport when two machines are synced together.
Slide - A control that has a knob which moves in a straight
line and which outputs part of an input voltage according to the position of the knob.
Smart FSK - An FSK (Frequency Shift Key) sync signal
where the beginning of each measure has an identification message giving the measure
SMPTE - 1) Society of Motion Picture and Television
Engineers, a professional society. 2) A term loosely used to mean SMPTE Time Code.
SMPTE Time Code - A standardized timing and sync
signal specified by the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers.
Snare - 1) Short for Snare Drum, the medium size drum
directly in front of a sitting drummer which has metal strands drawn across the bottom
head which rattle when the drum is hit. 2) The metal (or animal gut) strands stretched
across the bottom head of the snare drum.
Sock Cymbal - An alternate name for High-Hat (a double
cymbal on a stand which can be played with a foot pedal or by the top cymbal being hit
with a stick).
Soft Key - Short for Software Key; another name for a
function key, (a key which has a different function depending on the programming of a
computer and as shown on a menu screen) especially when it is a button on a device that
has an internal computer.
Soft Knee - Generic name for dbx Corporation's
registered trade name of "Over-Easy." (named for the gradual change of
compression ratio around the threshold making it difficult to detect when compression is
Soft Knob - Short for Software Knob; a knob used in
computer-controlled devices which has a different function depending on the programming of
Soft Sound Source - A low-volume instrument such
as an acoustic guitar.
Software - Digital data and commands that tell a computer
what functions to do, often stored on a floppy disc called a program disc.
Solder - A soft mixture of metals used to make a bond
between two metal surfaces by melting. In audio work the mixture is usually tin and lead
which is used in permanently connecting wires to terminals.
Soldering - The action of making connections with solder
(a soft mixture of metals used to make a bond between two metal surfaces by melting).
Solid State - In electronics, using transistors and
semiconductor devices rather than tubes.
Solo - 1) A circuit in a console that allows just one channel
(or several selected channels) to be heard or to reach the output. 2) In music, the
instrument or segment where an instrument is the featured instrument for a short period,
often playing a melody. 2) An original Copy Code (protective digital signal recorded with
the digital audio bits) which was developed by Phillips to prevent making a digital copy
of a copy made from a CD thereby helping prevent illegal bootlegging.
Solo Switch - A switch that activates the solo
function (allowing just selected channels to be heard or to reach the output).
Song Pointer - Short for MIDI Clock With Song Pointer
(time data in the MIDI signal that advances one step each 1/24 of a beat - used to sync
two sequencers together and which also has a number signal for each measure indicating the
number of measures into the tune).
Song Position Pointer - The full name for
Sound - 1) Moving pressure variations in air caused by
something vibrating between 20 times a second and 20,000 times a second or similar
variations in other substances like water. 2) Loosely, any audio signal regardless of its
Sound Absorption - Same as Acoustical Absorption
(the action or quality of a surface or substance to absorb sound rather than reflect
Sound Blanket - A thick blanket that can be put on
floors or hung to help prevent sound reflections.
Sound Effects - Sounds like door closings, wind,
etc. added to film or video shots; sounds other than dialogue, narration or music.
Sound File (Soundfile) - A digital audio
recording that can be stored in a computer or on a digital storage medium (such as a hard
Sound Level - A shortening of the term Sound Pressure
Level (a measure of the sound pressure created by a sound).
Sound Level Meter - A device that measures the
sound pressure levels.
Sound Module - The signal-generator portion of a
synthesizer or a sample playback unit that sends out an audio signal according to incoming
MIDI messages and does not have keys to play it.
Sound Patch - Full name of the term Patch
Sound Pressure Level (SPL) - A measure
of the sound pressure present; dB above the Threshold of Hearing (.0002 Microbars).
Sound Pressure Wave - Alternate compressions
(compacting together) and rarefactions (spreading apart) of air particles moving away from
something that is vibrating between 20 and 20,000 times a second or a similar occurrence
in another substance (such as water).
Sound Quality - A microphone characteristic of how
well the diaphragm movement matches the pressure changes of a sound pressure wave reaching
it, especially sudden changes.
Sound Source - Something that vibrates between 20
times a second and 20,000 times a second and therefore makes a sound pressure wave.
Sound Tools - A trademark of DigiDesign for a digital
audio editing system.
Sound Track - The audio recording, especially the
audio recording on film or video tape.
Sound Wave - Short for Sound Pressure Wave (a wave of
pressure changes moving away from something that is vibrating between 20 times a second
and 20,000 times a second).
Source - Input mode on a tape machine where the meters and
the output of the machine's electronics will be the signal arriving at the input
Space Echo - An effect of repeating echoes of a
Spaced Cardioid - A far-distant micing technique
of placing cardioid microphones a distance apart (usually about 6 inches) pointing away
from each other by 90 degrees.
Spaced Omni - Placing two microphones with
omnidirectional patterns 4 to 8 feet apart where one microphone picks up the left side and
one microphone picks up the right side.
Spaced Pair - Any two microphones spaced to get a
stereo pickup especially using the Spaced Omni or Spaced Cardioid techniques.
SPDIF - Shortened from the first letters of Sony/Phillips
Digital Interface, a standard for sending and receiving digital audio signals using the
common RCA connector.
Speaker - A device that changes electrical signals to
sound which can be heard; a transducer changing the electrical audio signal into a sound
Speaker Out Direct - Feeding the signal from
the speaker output of an instrument amplifier to the recording console without using a
Speed of Sound - The wave velocity (the time it
takes for one point of the waveform to travel a certain distance) of a sound pressure
wave, 1130 feet per second at 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
Spin Control - A British term for Feedback Control (a
control that determines the amount of delayed signal sent back to the input of a delay
line, used in repeat echo effects).
SPL - An abbreviation of Sound Pressure Level, referring to a
pressure of .0002 microbar, considered to be the Threshold of Hearing (lowest level where
people begin hearing sound).
Splice - 1) To assemble previously cut pieces of recording
tape with special tape on the back side. 2) An edit so done.
Splicing Block - A device that holds tape to cut it
to make splices.
Split Keyboard - A set up where some of the keys of
a synthesizer (or keyboard controller) will play one sound and others will play a second
Spot Erase - The action or function of erasing a very
small segment of one track (or several tracks) of a multitrack recording by disengaging
the normal tape drive system while the machine is in record; the engineer moves the tape
by hand or by using a shuttle control.
Spring Reverb - A device that simulates
reverberation by driving a spring (driving it like a loudspeaker cone) and picking up the
spring's vibrations with a contact microphone (device that changes physical vibrations
into audio signals).
Square Wave - A wave shape where the voltage rises
instantly to one level, stays at that level, instantly falls to another level and stays at
that level, and finally instantly rises to its original level to form each cycle.
ST - An abbreviation used by an engineer for noting a Safety
Take, indicating a take done after a take of acceptable quality had been recorded.
Stage - 1) In Reverberation Effects Devices, an echo added
before the reverberation to simulate echoes that would come from a concert stage. 2) In
amplifiers, one section of components that has a particular function. 3) The partially
enclosed or raised area where live musicians perform.
Stage Monitor - The speaker, on stage, for the
performers to hear themselves and to hear what the other musicians are playing on stage -
the equivalent of a cue system for performers.
Standard Operating Level - An Operating
Level (the maximum average level that should not be exceeded in normal operation) which is
widely used or widely referred to.
Standing Wave - An acoustic signal between two
reflective surfaces with a distance that is an even multiple of one-half of the wavelength
of the signal's frequency.
Step Program (Step Mode/Step Time)
- To program a sequencer one note (or event) at a time with the rhythm that the time value
of one step is set to.
Stereo - A recording or reproduction of at least two
channels where positioning of instrument sounds left to right can be perceived.
Stereo Image - The perception of the different sound
sources being far left, far right or any place in between.
Stereo Micing - Placement of two (or more) mics so
that their outputs give a stereo image.
Stretched String Instruments -
Instruments that use stretched strings to generate the tones such as guitars, violins and
Strike - To put away equipment and clean-up after a
Stylus - The needle part of the phonograph cartridge that
is in contact with the grooves of the disc.
Subcode - Control information bits that are recorded along
with digital audio and can be used for control of the playback deck (functions as program
number, start ID's, skip ID's etc.).
Subframe - A unit smaller than one frame in SMPTE time
Submaster (Sub-Master) - The fader
which controls the level of sound from several channels (but not usually all channels)
during mix down or recording.
(Sub-Master Assignment) - The choosing of what buss (and therefore what
sub-master) the console channel will feed to; usually accomplished by pressing a button in
the Switch Matrix.
Submix - A mix of audio signals that is treated as one
channel or two channels (for a stereo image) in a mix.
Subtractive Synthesis - The generation of
harmonically rich waveforms by various methods and then filtering those waveforms to
remove unwanted harmonics to create the sound.
Sum - A signal that is the mix of the two stereo channels at
equal level and in phase.
Sum and Difference Signals - When the
two stereo channels are mixed at equal levels and in phase, the sum signal is
Super-Cardioid Pattern - A microphone
pattern with maximum sensitivity on axis and least sensitivity approximately 150 degrees
Super Clock -
Super Clock, Superclock or Super Word
Clock is a word clock type signal with 256 times the number of pulses of a
regular word clock signal - at 48 kHz sampling rate the clock would run at
Surround Sound - A technique of recording and
playback of sound used in film where the sound has a front to back quality as well as side
to side perspective.
Sustain - 1) A holding out of the sounding of a pitch by
an instrument. 2) The level that a sound will continue to play at when a synthesizer key
is held down.
Sweetening - Musical parts that are overdubbed to
complete the music of the recording, especially the melodic instruments such as strings
Switch - A device that makes and/or breaks electrical
Switch Matrix - A series of switches, usually
arranged in push button rows and columns, which allow any input module to be connected to
any output buss.
Switchable Pattern Microphone - A
microphone which will have more than one directional pattern depending upon the position
of the pattern switch.
Sync - 1) The circuits in a multitrack tape recorder which
allow the record head to be used as a playback head for those tracks already recorded. 2)
The running of two devices (such as two tape decks) in time with one another.
Sync Box - A slang name for Sync Conversion Unit.
Sync Conversion Unit - A device which takes
several different kinds of sync signals and puts out several kinds of sync signals,
allowing a device (like a sequencer) to be driven by a sync signal it doesn't
Sync Level (Sync Gain) - A control on a
multitrack tape recorder to adjust the reproduce level when the machine is in the sync
playback mode (using the record head as a reproduce head for tracks already
Sync Pulse - A pulse (a rise and then fall in
amplitude) that is used for synchronizing two tapes or film and audio tape, especially
those recorded by the sync head of a Nagra tape recorder.
Sync Word Bits - A series of bits in the SMPTE time
code to identify the end of a frame.
Synchronization - The running of two devices (such
as two tape decks) in time with one another.
Synthesizer - A musical instrument that artificially
(using oscillators) generates signals to simulate the sounds of real instruments or to
create other sounds not possible with real instruments.
System Exclusive - A number of bits in a MIDI
transmission allowing data to be transmitted that will only be recognized by a unit of a
System Exclusive Bulk Dump- A System
Exclusive Bulk Dump is the transmission of internal synthesizer settings as a manufacturer
specified system exclusive file from a synth to a sequencer or from a sequencer to a
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